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Interviews with Small Press

Dozens of poets have answered the 12 or 20 question series over the last 3 years. It expanded with another set directed at small press people. The lastest is Lary Bremner (Timewell) on Obvious Epiphanies Press. His answer to question 10 remarks on the paradigm shift of what paper publishing means now that more people have access:

How do you approach the idea of publishing your own writing? Some, such as Gary Geddes when he still ran Cormorant, refused such, yet various Coach House Press’ editors had titles during their tenures as editors for the press, including Victor Coleman and bpNichol. What do you think of the arguments for or against, or do you see the whole question as irrelevant?

Question irrelevant; aversions personal. Me, I’d much rather have someone else publish my work, but in the internet age it really does not actually matter.

That gets to what Richard (Tai) Grove. was saying about how the publishing pyramid has inverted. Whereas before you would bring your written goods and the publisher would have a ready loyal audience that would buy whatever that publisher promoted, now it is the onus on the writer to develop the audience and bring that as part of the package to the publisher. (Is that new? or strictly true?)

The economics of a company for life has shifted to freelancer across the board so it makes sense that publishing wouldn’t be impervious to what is happening everywhere else. You are only as good as your last week of work in a part-time contract work-no benefits system.

People who stay in industry for decades can see the people who stay and longitudinally distinguish themselves but the market memory is pretty short. Appetites are voracious for things written well but things written well take a long time. It is like the ratio of how long it takes to prepare French cuisine versus the time it takes to eat it. How do you keep things balanced? What do you do for food if you aren’t a home-chef? What do you consume?

If there is no gatekeeper, no food or writing marketing board filtering, do you have to become leery of how much rotten or lower grade goods get thru or do farmers or writers self-monitor well enough?

William Allegrezza on Moira says

What do you see as the most effective way to get new publications out into the world?


The e-zine is a quick way to spread work around the world, but really, I think getting work published has become much easier than it used to be, and the big part today seems to be drawing attention to a publication, not just publishing it.

It’s not the What of what’s published, nor the Who of what’s published. Information getting words published is no longer the bottleneck it was. Distributing information when there is no central information source is the greater challenge and deal breaker.

Paper is harder to move around than words by electronic means (from where I’m sitting but some have aversions to computer and prefer anonymous cash and a paper book.) Ideas are easiest to move around by word of mouth but freedom of movement has limits of cash, energy, schedule issues, body scanners, visas. The written word can percolate in where the bodies can’t get to.

The advantage of internet files is that there is no pyramid. If one node goes down, the information goes around another route. It can’t readily be blocked except when we rely on a small number of service providers and monopoliesWeb sites can be blocked, or only some allowed. Books can be burned. Conversations are more nimble. What is spoken can pass censors but it

If we publish online only and leave out the economic model, setting aside the opportunity cost of time and energies spent, can we then leave behind paper and keep the essential nature of publishing, which is communication.

Brian Clements on Firewheel Editions/sentence magazine.

In reality, poetry isn’t a commercial market, it’s just a conversation that we’re having with ourselves and with our culture, with our language. We don’t publish to reach the public; we publish to reach those who are genuinely interested in the conversation.

Rolf Maurer on New Star Book said,

publishing is an eminently social act. […] on one level, I’m not so much interacting with a literary community, but a community of citizens […] some of whom identify as readers and some more of whom from time to time read a book, and thus might be interested in what a given writer has to say, a given book has to offer.

For publishing to be collective brain storming among willing participants…like that cooperative model. Some of conversation is not interaction but soap boxing oblivious to audience. It makes sense that a certain amount of publishing would be the same kind of venting as a stage of getting a handle of ideas and understandings.

The advantage of print is that near distance we can maintain, rereading verbatim, expanding the sense of context with reading what that person was reading from, learning the worldview that was entrenched that informed the utterance. We can do that with real-time spoken interaction as well to be an informed and informative audience. Is there more work when you are speaking knowing there will be an accurate transcript? Or at least as accurate as the willingness to hear intent? Like a photo can portray bone structure, accuracy of a moment, or some sense of the character of the person portrayed or portraying even if it wasn’t a representative or complete record, words can be the same. A playing of facets.

Other interviews in the series:
Jenny Penberthy on The Capilano Review.

Angela Carr on Tente.

Mark McCawley on Greensleeve Editions.

Jenna Butler on Rubicon Press.

Edward Smallfield on Apogee Press.

Cameron Anstee on Apt. 9 Press.

Anita Lahey on ARC magazine.

Antonio D’Alfonso on Guernica Editions.

Christophe Casamassima on Furniture Press.

Dave Proctor on Wooden Rocket Press.

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  1. ach. sorry I mussed and missed that.



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